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WASHINGTON — Hawaii’s U.S. senators had two different reactions Saturday after their colleagues voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
The Senate voted 50-48 to confirm Kavanaugh after weeks of vigorous protest by opponents and accusations of Democratic political games by Republicans.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, who’s been a lead Democratic opponent of Kavanaugh’s nomination, took to Twitter to remind people that it’s OK to be angry.
Hirono herself has been outspoken, especially after sexual assault allegations were levied against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford.
She’s hoping that rage will carry over into the 2018 midterms and beyond in the hopes that Democrats can regain at least some semblance of control in Washington.
Republicans currently control the White House, both chambers of Congress and, with Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
Today, I’m left with anger and determination, just like millions of people across the country. I will take @rtraister‘s advice, and commend it to the women of America and the men who understand our stories – I will stay mad and let that anger propel us to change. pic.twitter.com/jXkRE2MFWH
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) October 6, 2018
Outgoing Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa was also sharply critical of the vote.
A very sad day for the people. As the demographics of our country continue to change dramatically over the next 25 years, this Supreme Court will not change with us.
This is a devastating example of why it matters who sits in the Oval Office.
— Colleen Hanabusa (@RepHanabusa) October 6, 2018
Hawaii’s other U.S. senator, Brian Schatz, took a much different tack than Hirono, although it was clear he’s hoping to generate just as much enthusiasm for the upcoming elections.
Schatz took aim at the lack of voting full inclusion in the democratic process for residents of the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and American Samoa, places where American citizens are under-represented in Congress.
In Washington, for instance, voters can send a delegate to Congress to participate in debates and committee actions, but they don’t have an actual vote on the floor.
Hawaii’s senior senator said now might be the time to change that.
One of our highest medium term priorities must be to enfranchise – to empower, Americans in Puerto Rico, DC, Guam, American Samoa with full representation in Congress and to allow formerly incarcerated individuals to vote.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) October 6, 2018
Both Hirono and Schatz took the Senate floor in advance of Saturday’s final confirmation vote to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination.
In their speeches, they both described Kavanaugh as a long-time political operative, and someone who would be detrimental to women’s rights as well as those of Native Hawaiians and other indigenous people.
“Based on an in-depth examination of his legal career, academic writings and judicial record I conclude that he has a long pattern of misstating facts and misapplying the law in order to further his partisan political agenda,” Hirono said.
She pointed to Kavanaugh’s work with the Center for Equal Opportunity, a right-leaning, anti-affirmative action think tank that in 1999 opposed Native Hawaiian voting rights in the Supreme Court case Rice v. Cayetano.
At the time Kavanaugh also wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in which he was critical of “Hawaii’s naked racial spoils system” and questioned whether they deserved be classified as an indigenous people in the same manner as American Indian tribes.
Hirono warned her colleagues that if Kavanaugh was confirmed he would present a “clear and present danger” to Native Hawaiians and other indigenous groups, including Alaska Natives.
She also said anyone who thinks Kavanaugh won’t vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case legalized abortions nationwide, is “living in a fantasy world.”
When Schatz took the Senate floor around 2:30 a.m., several hours after Hirono’s speech, protestors could be heard in the gallery above him. As the commotion died down, he said the Senate should have demanded a better nominee for the Supreme Court.
“These last two weeks have torn our country apart,” Schatz said. “But even before these allegations against Judge Kavanaugh became public there was enough in Judge Kavanaugh’s record to cause me to vote no.”
Schatz said that Kavanaugh’s addition to the court would be damaging to women’s and civil rights to the environment and economic fairness. He also said he worried about Kavanaugh undermining Native Hawaiian self-determination.
Like Hirono, Schatz said he held not preconception Kavanaugh would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade, even though he hasn’t said it outright.
“There’s a reason why everybody who wants to ban abortion is so enthusiastic about this judge,” Schatz said. “They’re not dumb. They understand his views and they understand the one thing you can’t say is, ‘Yes, I will vote to overturn Roe.’”
Schatz went on to say that Kavanaugh would also seek to “rip apart” the Affordable Care Act, not based on jurisprudence, but because of his ideological views.
“It’s not a bad thing to be a political operative,” Schatz said. “Someone has to run a campaign. Someone has to mobilize voters. That’s part of our American system of democracy. Like it or hate it, there are operatives. It’s just that we normally don’t put them on the courts.”
Hours later Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate 50-48. He was sworn in the same night.
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